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Portraying Science Fiction Writers as Wealthy

The Internet Review of Science Fiction has posted an article by author/editor Gary Westfahl titled How to Make Big Money Writing Science Fiction, and Other Dangerous Delusions. In it, he cites Locus magazine as perpetuating the idea that science fiction writing is a lucrative business for authors.

…at times, it read like a sort of Lifestyles of the Science Fiction Rich and Famous, with photographs of millionaire authors smiling at conventions, brief reports of authors receiving six-figure advances or huge sums for movie rights, news items about noteworthy authors receiving high honors or making lucrative deals. And the recent changes in the magazine’s format-more and more glossy pages, more and more color photographs, a higher price-further suggested an impulse to provide science fiction with more and more of an upscale image.

Hmmm. As a Locus subscriber, I’m not sure I ever got that impression from the magazine. While I would prefer more news or articles rather than the pictures, I still think there is a good blend of both. It’s always nice to put a face to an author, lest you mistakenly think he looks like George Kennedy. 🙂 The interviews – the subjects of which are both famous and not so famous – are always enjoyable to read as each person brings a different perspective to the field.

Emerald City’s Cheryl Morgan also reacts to the article.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

7 Comments on Portraying Science Fiction Writers as Wealthy

  1. I imagine prospective SF authors read quite a number of SF author interviews. And judging by how frequently such authors mention the poor rates of pay and financial hardship they suffer you’d have to be pretty thick to see science ficiton writing as a some kind of get rich quick scheme. Mind you the world is full of far more destructive and disastrous get rich schemes for the unwary so I can’t even see such a delusion as paticularly dangerous. I’m afraid this is simply another case of someone saying something a bit silly.

  2. I am a science fiction writer. My advice: don’t quit your dayjob. You are not going to raise a family, or even pay your rent, on that next advance you were hoping you might get.

    Things might be different for J.K. Rawling. On the other hand, there is one and only one of her.

  3. There are a number of folks who live by writing. Some do it because they are paid well (Rowling, King), others because they write so much (Asimov). But there are a greater number of highly talented folks who have yet to quit their day jobs, as the esteemed Mr. Wright points out (Tim Powers).

    Maybe if we all started writing romance novels instead? Hey, JP, have you reserved “” yet?


  4. I think it is possible to become a full time SF writer.

    Didn’t Alistair Reynolds and Cory Doctorow recently give up their day jobs? (Although Cory I guess has a finger in many pies, oh to have your rent paid by adverts on your blog!). Doesn’t Charlie Stross write full time? And so on. A backlist of a few books that keep selling well seems to be the requirement.

    So become rich? Maybe not. Make a living? Maybe.

    I, of course will be the exception and make seven squillion pounds from my first novel, plus a 50% cut in all merchandise from the gazillion dollar film adaptations….

  5. A squillion? Is that more than one? 🙂

  6. I don’t know why I’m surprised (but I am) here’s the Wikipedia entry

  7. LOL! 😀

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